Cliff Grassmick/The Daily Camera
BOULDER – Josh Scott unveiled a powerful inside game to help Colorado offset Air Force’s perimeter shooting.
Playing primarily in the low post, the freshman forward scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, and No. 23 Colorado handed Air Force its first loss of the season with an 89-74 victory on Sunday night.
Andre Roberson had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker added 15 points apiece for Colorado (5-0), which is off to its best start since also opening 5-0 in 1989-90.
The Buffaloes improved to 9-1 at home against Air Force (5-1), which fell one win shy of matching its only 6-0 start, in 1982-83.
Air Force set a torrid pace in the first half, making eight of 14 from 3-point range (57.1 percent) but cooled off in the second, when they made only four of 16 (25 percent) as Colorado increasingly contested the perimeter shots, hit the boards and focused on scoring from up close.
“We wanted to go inside, whether it was to Josh, whether it was to Andre,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
“And Josh is a great low post player. He showed signs ... of why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school. He’s got great skills, good composure and balance. It doesn’t always look the prettiest, but he has a way of putting the ball in the basket.”
Scott said as hot as Air Force was shooting from beyond the arc, the Buffaloes had the sense the Falcons shooting would fall off if they managed to keep up the pressure on both ends of the floor.
“We kind of knew they were not going to making the same kind of shots in the second half that they were making in the first half,” he said. “I think we wore them down for the most part.”
When asked about a turning point in the game, Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich noted Colorado’s rebounding advantage (46-19) as well as the Buffaloes’ outscoring the Falcons 18-4 in second-chance points .
“Second shots and also the post feeds, the post touches inside to their big guys,” he said. “When they got it in, they either scored it or got fouled or both, and that hurt us. Then we got Taylor (Broekhuis) in foul trouble and we had to bring him out and with him out, we lose a little bit with him not being on the floor.”
Michael Lyons scored 20 points for the Falcons, who fell to 2-76 when playing ranked opponents. Todd Fletcher matched his career high with 18 points.
Air Force closed to 58-56 on Max Yon’s jumper in the second half, but the Buffaloes outscored the Falcons 17-5 over the next seven minutes to go in front 75-61 with 5:25 remaining.
Roberson converted a breakaway dunk, Eli Stalzer hit a 3-pointer and Scott had six of his points during the stretch, four coming on free throws.
Fletcher hit his fourth 3-pointer with 4:23 to play to interrupt Colorado’s momentum but by then, the Buffaloes’ lead was too much to overcome.
Dinwiddie connected on a 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the opening period, putting Colorado in front 41-39 at the half.
Colorado used a 7-0 burst, capped by Stalzer’s 3-pointer, to take a 36-31 lead with 6:11 remaining in the first half but that was offset by a pair of 3-pointers from by Fletcher and Lyons, who scored 12 of his points in the opening 20 minutes.